Our Bodies Beyond COPD

Last updated: March 2018

When I think of COPD, I also think of the whole body. COPD, and the medications for it, can often affect the whole body, and other health issues and medications can affect your COPD. I know that when we go in to see our pulmonologist or lung doctor, he/she will often stay within the specialized field of lungs. However, your doctor looks at your overall medication list and allergies. Some may watch your heart, liver and kidneys, some may just refer you back to your GP (General Physician), IM (Internal Medicine) or to a doctor of another specialty, such as a cardiologist.

It’s difficult to look at the lungs without seeing everything else around them. Even looking at an anatomy chart, they don’t just show the lungs, you see the heart and other organs. You also see blood, veins, arteries, muscles, tendons, bones and more.

I asked a doctor one time, why do we have to see a different doctor for each body part?

He said to think of it as getting the best care for each body part. By focusing on the individual areas or functions of the body, they are better trained and able to give better, more specific care. Often then, for the “whole picture” a general practitioner or Internal Medicine physician will oversee your overall care and make recommendations as needed.

When my body rages in pain, it affects my blood pressure and my lungs, and ultimately, my breathing. When a person takes medications for one thing, it can affect the entire body. This is why it’s so important that your doctor knows exactly what medications you are taking, the dose and how often you're taking them. It’s also important that you let your doctor know what over the counter or herbal medications you are taking as well.

Even natural remedies can have an effect on multiple bodily functions.

Your doctor will likely schedule a CBC (Complete Blood Count and Chemical Study) of your blood. This will give the doctor a look of your overall health, including your heart, liver, kidneys, cholesterol, potassium, your vitamin levels and more.

Your doctor might also suggest an ABG (Arterial Blood Gas). This is taken from an artery at your wrist. You may have heard that it’s painful. It can be, but what this tells your doctor, makes it worth the discomfort. This measures the PH (acidity), O2 (oxygen) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) in your blood. It also tells your doctor how well your lungs are moving oxygen in your blood as well as carbon dioxide out of your body. This also tells the doctor whether you are needing oxygen, or even a CPAP or Bi-Pap to help remove the CO2.

Our bodies are wonderful structures and can do so many things.

We must take care of them. For example, exercise can help to increase circulation and move oxygen throughout the body and the organs. It is so important to exercise to stay healthy in general, and I do stress that a lot. Even though COPD thinks it controls our bodies, we can stand up and fight, through exercise, diet, medications, oxygen when needed, regular doctor appointments, and a support system. We always hope to slow the progression of our disease, no matter what stage we are.

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